On the very same day, exactly 3 years ago, I started a "Journey to 40 million in 5 years". Fast forward, today my company is valued at $500 000. The main product is growing day by day at an increasing speed. Continue reading to discover how I managed to get this far and what valuable lessons I learned along the way. ONE Know where you are going. When I started this journey, it didn't begin with money. I had been working in the offline advertising business for 7 years and I knew close to nothing about internet marketing. However, I did choose it for a reason. I wanted to have freedom to travel the world and live in different cities whenever I wanted. And this vision was incompatible with having a local brick-and-mortar business or a 9-to-5 job. Your reason might be different. It's okay if you want to help your parents, live a better life or fly to the moon one day. Just remember: you need to know where you are going and money is just a little cog in the machine that will get you there. Don't focus on money, focus on the destination. TWO If you haven't started yet, just do it now. When I knew the destination, it became easier to choose the idea. I stumbled upon zen19's journey "40 million in 10000 hours" (kudos mate, I owe you a box of beer) and it seemed totally like what I needed: fully automated, non-reliant on unpredictable 3rd party services like Google or social networks, scalable, remotely manageable. Seemed like a perfect fit. It's only later I realized how wrong I was initially... Anyway, the moral is whatever you want to do, start now. A simple question I ask myself whenever I want to do something big: "will I start doing it within a week?" Unless the answer is positive, I strike it out of my plan and forget about that thing. Keeping it in the back of your head will only create more resistance, which will ultimately lead to regret and remorse months or years later. Either do or don't, there's no try. THREE Great things are built by teams. I can argue that the idea of working in a team is one of the most undervalued ideas in the internet marketing community. It is understandable to be afraid of all possible risks that come along when you start working with other people. However, I strongly believe based on my first-hand experience that a number of benefits you receive working in a team vastly outweighs the risks. We work in a very sensitive area where money is made from something intangible like source code and oftentimes even less tangible things like know-hows. I started by teaming up with two developers. During the first two months, it was hard for me to switch my attention from the business I was running towards the new project. One of the developers really liked the idea, in the beginning, however slowly stopped communicating. Another, however, was not only working on his own but also pinging me all the time anxious about when we will start working. A couple months later we incorporated with the second one while saying farewell to the first. You are in this game for a long run. Choose your people wisely. Team up with people who share your values and working habits. FOUR Everything is bleeding into everything. Perhaps, this is the most interesting part of my story. I started with a journey revolving around a completely blackhat idea, which later gradually transitioned into a business start-up. How did that happen? If you took a glimpse at the original journey, you probably already know its basic idea. It should have been a mailing system, which would collect leads from multiple sources, then push them through a sales funnel. This is how our software looked like: We called it "The Big Marketing Roaster" or shortly BMR. The problem we discovered was overly strict spam filters on all major e-mail service providers. Even though we were getting completely legitimate subscribers, achieving somewhat normal inboxing rates seemed to be impossible. At best, our e-mails were being put into "promotions" folder, which people barely read. This has put a big red cross on this project. At the same time, the person who invested in BMR has offered us to development work for a start-up with huge potential. We accepted the offer and got some cash flow required to keep our team afloat. Those were interesting times. I was participating in meeting with ministers and deputies of one middle-east country and constantly flying to different countries. We even managed to get some financing but the project fell apart due to values and vision mismatch between us and the main founder. In the subsequent vacuum, we had to reorganize and switch to something else. Not knowing what to do next, we decided to throw everything at the wall and see what would stick. I talk about this in the fifth part. The lesson of this part is that it’s not important where you start as long as you are moving forward because everything is bleeding into everything. Anything you do now will impact what you will reach later. The only thing that is not moving you forward is procrastination. FIVE Adopt probabilistic thinking. When the Big Marketing Roaster failed as a project and the big start-up failed next, all we had left was the team. We were missing two things at once: an idea and money. Remember, I said that money was only a cog in the machine that is ought to transport you to the grand goal? Those days we learned that money was a very important cog. Albeit we had some cash reserve left from the start-up deal, we still had to start looking to earn a quick buck. We tried many ideas ranging from offering services on mainstream platforms like Upwork and Fiverr to creating a health test android application and even selling vaginal tightening pills online (don't laugh!). However, the best working thing was LinkedIn marketing. We already had experience with it when we were driving dirt cheap visitors to that start-up website, which I talk about in part four. However, things have changed since then, LinkedIn got more strict. But overall it was working and had the most potential amongst other projects. So we focused on it. You won't always have a good idea. You won't even have a decent idea sometimes. And more often than not your pick of an idea to work on will be limited by either your grand goal or available resources. Because of that, you need to learn how to work with probabilities. Some people say you should focus on a single project while other say try everything and see what works best. I say, think with probabilities. The question to ask yourself: what next step has the best probability of moving you closer to your grand goal? Whatever it is, do it! SIX Long-term over short-term. We started providing LinkedIn marketing services as well as selling LinkedIn social signals. It went quite good but I frankly doubted it would be possible to scale this business to millions in revenue. Almost all blackhat things have a short lifetime because it's all a cat-and-mouse game. When the cat catches the mouse, you return to the square one and have to adapt to the new rules of the game. We were making a good income off LinkedIn but wanted to move to something more stable, which would enable our company to grow steadily at an increasing pace. At that time, our developer took an initiative and started developing a "multi-login tool". Even though the initiative was supported by our marketing specialists, I was very skeptical about the thing. Here’s a conversion I recall with the developer: Me: - "Why would you need this tool?" Dev: - "To login many accounts at once. It takes too much time to switch between them" Me: - "Hm. I don't have this problem. Just use an incognito tab in your browser" Dev: - "It's not enough" Me: - "Use more browsers then and open incognito tabs in each" Dev: - "You just don't get the idea" Me: - "Mhm okay, whatever" A few months later the prototype was built. Since early days it reduced the "randomly banned account" rate to zero. Our VA costs got reduced by half due to massive time savings. This got me actually convinced. We decided to abandon all projects except LinkedIn and funnel all disposable cash and future income into the development of a IM tool. If you wonder how much, we invested - over $100k and 1 year of our work before we got $1000/month in revenue for the first time. I think this was the best decision we could have made. We continued doing LinkedIn for a year since the inception of a Multi Account Tool*. Over time we were dropping more and more Linkedin clients to focus more resource on a Multi Account Tool*. We finished at the point, where we were using LinkedIn only to beta-test new releases of the software. A while Linkedin services were dropped completely. Short-term projects are fine, especially when they bring good money. But mind you, whenever you have an opportunity to switch to a long-term project, do it. You won't regret it. SEVEN Find purpose in life. The worst enemy that we all have is within us. It's our laziness, bad attitudes, bad habits and blind spots. All kinds of gurus will suggest you a poison of their choice for the treatment. Time-management, coffee, meditation, walking, planning, coffee or maybe Adderall. The bottom line for ALL of them is they work until they don't. You choose a thing that you think will help you and it indeed helps you a bit. But then the effect fades out and you move onto the next thing in search of the perfect cure. This is because those are only tools in your toolbox and not the actual reason that moves you forward. To be really productive and motivated you need something that would wake you up in the morning and make craving for the next task regardless of how you feel. You need something that is bigger than you, your purpose. Online privacy was an area of interest for me for a long time before I decided to work on a Multi Account Tool*. I find true beauty in all new opportunities to track people and all new opportunities to disguise from the tracking. It's like the perpetual development of missile and anti-missile systems. Every new generation of missiles leads to the creation of a new generation of anti-missiles. With every new generation, both are getting smarter and stronger. At some point, everything becomes so complicated that technology transforms into an art, which is hard to replicate unless you walked down the whole path from the very first generation. The beauty of this art is what makes me tick. It is the reason why I can work for weeks and months non-stop without feeling tired. I work because I like it and money just comes along the way. I really hope that my experience will motivate and help you to find your own passion and start earning from it. Have questions? Ask me anything! P.S. For the sake of keeping it short, I omitted many interesting parts of the Linkedin journey here. I am preparing my full LinkedIn guide and hopefully, will manage to publish it during January. Stay tuned! Mod Edit - 06/09/17 I Know SEO - * the OP mentions a tool they own, this is advertising outside of the marketplace which is against the rules but as the content is very good I've removed the name of the tool and replaced it with a generic description of what it does.